Known for their nervy, melodic indie rock, Britain’s Circa Waves first gained buzz in the 2010s with hooky singles like “Get Away” and “Stuck in My Teeth.” Centered on lead singer/songwriter Kieran Shudall, the band earned favorable comparisons to the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, and the Vaccines even before they hit the Top Ten with their debut, 2015’s Young Chasers. Without shying away from their influences, the band has matured, and albums like 2017’s Different Creatures, 2019’s What’s It Like Over There? showcase their deepening maturity and knack for crafting their own distinctively infectious, post-punk anthems. In 2020, they reached number four on the U.K. albums chart with Sad Happy and returned in 2023 with Never Going Under.
Circa Waves was formed in Liverpool in May 2013 by guitarist and singer Shudall, who had decided to “knuckle down” and commit fully to music after spending years in a succession of no-hope garage bands. After writing a batch of songs and putting some demos online, he recruited second guitarist Joe Falconer, bassist Sam Rourke, and drummer Sian Plummer (replaced by Colin Jones in 2015), and the band undertook a few short tours of the U.K. and Europe. Their melodic, propulsive rock sound, heavily inspired by The Strokes and The Vaccines was well-received by audiences, and such a buzz built around them that they were soon offered a deal with Transgressive Records, erstwhile home of Foals, The Subways, and Mystery Jets .
The reception they received for their debut instilled them with a greater sense of confidence, and as a result they returned to the studio almost immediately after touring; with their renewed vigor they created a heavier, beefier sophomore record, 2017’s Different Creatures. Produced by Alan Moulder, the album fared well, hitting number 11 on the U.K. album chart, and spawning the singles “Wake Up” and “Fire That Burns.”
The band’s third full-length, What’s It Like Over There?, arrived in 2019 and included the single “Movies.” A Top Ten album in the U.K., it again found the band working with Moulder and embracing a more nuanced pop sophistication. In early 2020, they delivered Sad Happy, which featured production by singer Shudall and mixing from Matt Wiggins and Dan Grech-Marguerat. Prior to the album’s full release, it was split in half and issued on two separate EPs, Happy and Sad. It was the group’s highest-charting effort to date, peaking at number four on the U.K. charts. Circa Waves returned in January 2023 with their fifth full-length, Never Going Under. Informed by Shudall’s experience becoming a father and his worries over climate change and the state of the world, it featured the singles “Hell on Earth” and “Carry You Home.”